Monday, September 03, 2012

Setbacks and Successes

Today's tomato harvest.
Greetings from a land where there are less than 10 people per square mile. I swear, sometimes a whole day goes by without me seeing another person. Other times, I drive on the road and it's more than 20 minutes before I see another car.

Just sayin', it's QUIET.

What a real tomato is supposed to look like - red inside.
Meanwhile, the garden is chugging along not without its invasions. As you can see from the bucket above, I have a healthy crop of tomatoes but there are many with the dreaded blossom rot, or seed rot. The tomatoes looks perfect from the top but have a horrible rotten bottom half that looks like this:

From what I've read, it comes from a number of things - lack of proper drainage, uneven watering or a lack of calcium in the soil. In my case, I'm guessing uneven watering since that is my main challenge here at SCRANCH. Without consistent rain, an on-site water source and water pressure, not everybody gets the water they deserve. Nevertheless, I have enough that I've been making a ton of delectable spaghetti sauce:

And the little Dakota Yellow Pear tomatoes have been selling well at the Farmer's Market, just 10 cents each!

But this first year has not been without actual enemies, namely, thousands of tiny black souls that infested my kale, attacked my radishes and murdered my brussel sprouts - the flea beetle. Those little bastards certainly left their evil mark on my crops, despite my best efforts at spraying organic bug spray.

Brussel sprouts being ravaged by the flea beetle.
It's downright devastating to see your babies being eaten alive like this. I yelled at them but they paid no mind. I guess this is one of those 'in the field' real-world challenges that I knew would come. Mind you, I wasn't the only one in the region who battled these beetles but I know I lost a lot of ground by traveling so much in August. My own fault, I guess.

Already, I am making a list of "fired" crops - ones that won't be planted next year - beets and brussel sprouts top the list.

But the real heartbreaker has been the sad state of the Dakota Black Popcorn. It has a number of problems, most of which have to do with the uneven watering scenario. Also, they are too crowded thanks to my inept planting and the plant's tendency to shoot out "tillers" - extra stalks from one seed.

Sad, thirsty corn.
Also, thanks to some hungry, curious deer, several cobs were lost to their munching and a subsequent fungus that set in like an infection in a wound:

And I don't even want to talk about the cut worm....

Trying to look cute but they are green pods of EVIL.
But all is not lost. As I mentioned, the tomato crop is bounding ahead, despite a few rotton bottoms, while the basil and the Lemon basil continue to be big sellers at the market.

In fact, my watermelon - both Sweet Crimson and Moon & Stars varieties - are a success! I sold a half at the market last week. Doesn't sound like much but considering how few customers there are - maybe 20? - I'm celebrating.

And my purple Cosmic carrots have made an appearance, although they need some more time in the ground and a good frost to make them more sweet, less woody:

And in carrying on with the orange theme to match the Tonka Truck, my pumpkins have arrived!

Despite the setbacks the worrisome lack of rain, it looks like this first year might be somewhat of a mild success - still too early to call. I still have huge eggplant, pepper and chili plants with no fruit on them, which is frustrating, but the season isn't over yet.

Customized pumpkins, compliments of my cousin, Royce.


quirkychick said...

Your pumpkins are FABULOUS!!!

It is so hard when the bad bugs over run the garden. It really does feel personal.

I have gotten obsessive about bringing in plants and bugs that do battle with the bad guys - had great luck with the parasitic wasps who eradicated aphids.

Considering the fact that you just threw yourself into this you have done amazing - next year, with planning and experience I think you do even better.

Heather Clisby said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Susie. I brought in ladybugs but other than being decorative, they didn't any of my enemies. Maybe next year, I'll try the praying mantis.

Or maybe just more praying.